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Thirty Years of TED: Reporting from Whistler

Updated: Apr 30, 2020

Photo credit: Alan Wallace

Our Alan Wallace reports from TED and TEDActive in Whistler, Canada. Check out the latest news here. — The experience that is TED turns 30 this year with a “sold out” new location in Vancouver. The Vancouver Convention Center is the new home of the event for 2014. For first-time visitors, and those who want a virtual tour, be sure to see the installation of a new sculpture by Janet Echelman titled Skies Painted with Unnumbered Sparks, with an original interactive work created in collaboration with Google’s Aaron Koblin.

Several years ago the TED event organizers added co-located events, as well as original and simulcast conference activities, known as TEDActive. TEDActive has also moved from its Palm Springs, CA location to a new home in Whistler, Canada. The Whistler location is where I am currently taking it all in.


The event officially began Monday, March 17. In registration, you get a bag of stuff including free Clear membership card and a premium Kransen headset from Urbanears.

Tunes and a quick flight back are enough to make me happy, though I’m pretty sure my editor will make me return this stuff when I get back. Journalistic ethics and all.

Because talks were later in the day, the TED community scheduled local events for the morning. The activities included skiing and snowshoeing. I took advantage of a tour of the PRIOR custom snowboard and ski shop.

Walking through the plant showed me things about skis and snowboards that I would have never known, nor thought to ask, and they made me want to hit the slopes.

The start of the TED conferences acknowledged the early years of the event with a conversation with TED co-founder Richard Saul Wurman.

The day also included presentations from:

  1. Nicholas Negroponte, tech visionary

  2. Chris Hadfield, astronaut

  3. Educator Ziauddin Yousafzai, who is the father of Malala Yousafzai. Malala became known beyond her borders of Pakistan when a gunman boarded her school bus and shot her after seeking her out by name on Tuesday, October 9, 2012.

  4. Mark Ronson, music producer

Tuesday’s sessions made global news with a virtual appearance by Edward Snowden. TED is certainly known for being newsworthy and does not shy away from provocative topics. The full-screen appearance of Snowden lived up to the usual TED thrill. The audience had mixed opinions to his appearance, and regular TED attendees, such as Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, have both recently been vocal about their opinions and thoughts of the hero (in Wozniak’s opinion) or traitor (according to Gates).

TED and TEDActive will continue to drive news this week and will continue to deliver on its “ideas worth spreading” slogan. If you want to follow events from the week of TED and TEDActive, follow it on Twitter @tedtalks. Hashtags: #TED2014 and #tedactive2014

Based in Seattle, Alan Wallace is a senior contributor and on our security team here He previously has worked as a London-based foreign correspondent for UPI. He also founded InterActive Agency, the first Internet-focused ad agency. Alan later joined Live365, where he served as a vice-president and oversaw its rise to the №1 Internet radio network spot. He has been a judge for the Codie Awards for nearly a decade. Got a question, comment or story idea for Alan? Email him at, or contact him at +Alan Wallace.

Originally published at on March 19, 2014.

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